Lowest power MCU with 0.25V operation, claims startup

Lowest power MCU with 0.25V operation, claims startup

Technology News |
By Rich Pell

This is the thought to lowest operational voltage for logic circuitry and well in to the sub-threshold voltage regime of transistor action. The company has yet not indicated what clock frequency the core can sustain, which is likely to be of the order of 10s or 100s of kilohertz.

The company’s low-power system-on-a-chip (SoC) and microcontroller intellectual property is intended to operate in energy harvesting regimes and support autonomous Internet of Things deployments.

Gopal Raghavan, former CTO of Cadence’s IP division, co-founded Eta and serves the company as president and CEO.

Eta Compute IP cores are in the nanowatt to microwatt domain. Source: Eta Compute.

The company has a range of IP blocks listed on its website including Cortex-M3 that operates from 0.25 to 1.2 volts and is designed for a 90LP process with power consumption of less than 5 microwatts. There is also Cortex M0+ cores with power consumption of less than 2 microwatts.

A PMIC is available for dynamic voltage scaling from 0.2V to 1.5V with 80 percent efficiency. Other cores include a 12bit serial approximation register analog-to-digital converter, real-time clock, audio DSP and AES encryption block.

The 200 ksample per second ADC consumes less than 3 microwatts and the RTC between less than 100nW to less than 10nW depending on process technology. The 128-bit block cipher AES that supports key sizes 128, 192 and 256-bits.

“Eta Compute’s ultra-low power ARM Cortex-M3 processor-based device will enable our ecosystem to get to market faster, with efficient devices powered by energy harvesting and small coin cell batteries,” said Lakshmi Mandyam, general manager of automotive, IoT and embedded business at ARM, in a statement issued by Eta. ARM is the original developer of the Cortex-M3 and Cortex-M0+ cores and is business to license this on to fabless chip companies and now other licensors.

Next: Lip-Bu Tan of Cadence and Walden likes it

“The team at Eta Compute has a history of successful low-power computing products and has delivered a truly compelling solution for IoT,” said Lip-Bu Tan, chairman of Walden International and an investor in Eta Compute. Lip-Bu Tan is also CEO of Cadence Design Systems Inc. and Raghavan’s former boss.

Eta Compute offers a variety of licensing models including standard, perpetual and NRE contracts. Eta Compute also undertakes design services.

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